Models Eleanna, Persa, and Melina sporting Early Roman hairstyles inside the Corinth Museum courtyard.
Between May 13th and May 19th, 2019 the Archaeological Museum of Ancient Corinth and ASCSA Corinth Excavations participated in two international programs: Museum Week and International Museum Day. Museum Week is a digital initiative that brings together cultural institutions from all over the world based on the idea of “7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags.” For one week, social media outlets were flooded with images, videos, and behind the scenes content that were linked under a common hashtag: #WomenInCulture, #SecretsMW, #PlayMW, #RainbowMW, #ExploreMW, #PhotoMW, and #FriendsMW. Corinth Excavations treated viewers to a never before seen video of ASCSA Head Conservator Nicol Anastassatou cleaning a Late Byzantine iron key for the hashtag #SecretsMW. A selection of photos from Corinth Excavations allowed viewers to trace the steps of an archaeologist over the course of one day for the hashtag #ExploreMW. All of the uploaded content can be found on ASCSA's official Instagram and Facebook profiles.
The sixth day of Museum Week coincided with International Museum Day on Saturday, May 18th. International Museum Day has been organized annually by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) since 1977 and aims to raise awareness that, “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” On this day, thousands of museums around the world engage with the public by planning creative events and activities around a central theme. The theme for this year was “Museums as Cultural Hubs: The future of tradition.” The Ephorate of Antiquities of the Corinthia and ASCSA Corinth Excavations presented to the public a special program <<H Kορινθιακή Oμορφιά: Παρελθόν και Mέλλον>> (Corinthian Beauty: Past and Future). The Ephor of Antiquities of the Corinthia, Giota Kassimi, together with Associate Director of Corinth Excavations Ioulia Tzonou, ASCSA Head Conservator Nicol Anastassatou, Steinmetz Family Foundation Museum Fellow Eleni Gizas, and Conservation Intern Penny Pitsikou welcomed guests as they arrived at the Corinth Museum. Director of Corinth Excavations, Chris Pfaff, was unfortunately unable to attend due to his requisite presence at the ASCSA international conference "Destruction, Survival, and Economic Recovery in the Greek World."
Ephor of Antiquities of the Corinthia, Giota Kassimi, and Steinmetz Family Foundation Museum Fellow, Eleni Gizas, present to museum guests the topic of the day's program.
Guests were encouraged to explore freely the permanent exhibitions that showcase multifaceted expressions of female beauty, such as female figurines from Prehistoric sites around the Corinthia and from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore, accessories and toiletries that were used in domestic settings, and marble female busts dating to the Roman period. At the inner courtyard of the museum, attendees were immersed in the world of female hairdressing, and specifically of Roman coiffures of the late first century BC-first and second centuries AD. An assemblage of hair tools and accessories that was selected by Gizas and pulled from the storerooms of the Corinth Museum was displayed openly. A finely incised bronze comb, ivory pins with intricately carved pin heads, miniature terracotta heads with elaborate hairstyles, and a bronze mirror with an ivory handle were just some of the small finds that guests could see up close. Alongside these small finds were three life-size female heads, one that depicts Julia with the “nodus” hairstyle characteristic of the late first century BC/early first century AD (S 1972-2) and two from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore that depict young girls with intricately braided buns characteristic of the first/second centuries AD (S 2666 and S 2667).
Objects from the museum storerooms and accompanying descriptive labels are laid out for museum guests to examine.
There to recreate coiffures similar to those on the terracotta figurines and marble heads were two hairstylists, Elisavet Vouraki and Anthi Makri, along with four models, Melina, Persa, Eleanna, and Paraskevi. Gizas had supplied Vouraki and Makri with instructional videos and photographs that demonstrate how such coiffures have been styled previously by archaeologists and hairdressers. Since the instructional content varies in its use of modern or ancient tools and natural or artificial hair, Vouraki and Makri were asked to use needle and thread instead of hairpins to fasten strands of braids together and to use only the models’ natural hair. Modern curling irons were used since the elongated shape and heating function of the curling iron closely parallels the ancient calamistrum. Gizas elected to recreate the “toupete” or “Flavian” coiffure and the “tower” hairstyle in order to bring to life the hairstyles depicted on the accompanying terracotta figurines (e.g., MF 5260, MF 1523a, MF 1996-21, and MF 3289) and marble heads from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore.
Hairstylists Anthi Makri (left) and Elisavet Vouraki (right) style the hair of Persa (left) and Paraskevi (right).
Hairstylist Anthi Makri uses needle and ribbon to thread together rows of braids on model Persa.
Eleanna, Persa, and Melina pose before two marble heads from the Sanctuary of Demeter and Kore.
The celebration continued as museum guests were treated to musical performances by two of the models, Melina and Persa, who played the keyboard and clarinet, respectively. Attendees were eager to take selfies with photo props of Roman coiffure cut-outs and to receive commemorative bookmarks that were designed by Anastassatou and Gizas.